This post is in response to the arrest and confession of “As I Lay Dying” lead man, Tim Lambesis.
A Pastor-friend of mine (Jonathan JW) sent me a link through Facebook, which actually confirms something that I’ve been saying for years about “Christian” metal bands. Basically, if they say they’re Christians, but aren’t promoting Christ in their lyrics, then chances are they’re nothing more than a non-Christian band under a Christian banner/label.
For instance, Project 86 claims to have argued continuously with people and the press about how they actually are a Christian band, even though you often wouldn’t notice by their lyrics. I actually got into a slight argument myself once with the drummer, Alex Albert, about it. He had great passion in his expressions and voice when trying to convince me that they really are a Christian band. However, I was trying to communicate my difficulty of believing so, not only because of their lyrics, but because of the way that Andrew Schwab, their lead singer, had behaved the last time that I saw them play at the Wonderland Ballroom in Elgin, IL. See, they had just been signed to a label and were really excited about it, so between each song, Schwab would thank everybody he could think of for their new found success. However, the problem was that he never thanked Jesus. Honestly, between each song, he would thank about 5-10 people, then ask, “who am I missing? Who else can I thank?” Man, there were teens all around me yelling, “Thank Jesus! Thank Jesus for it!” But I guess he didn’t hear them because he would then say, “I can’t think of anyone else”, and then introduce the next song. And this happened several times during their set. See, a real Christian not only would have thanked Jesus, but he would have thanked Jesus first. But Schwab didn’t thank Jesus at all. And that was the event I was trying to get out in my unintended argument with Alex Albert. (I’m not sure where they are now in terms of their relationships with Jesus, but their blog gives off the idea that they’ve gotten close with Him again, which is why I’ve kept them on my list of links).
Tim Lambesis of “As I Lay Dying” mentioned in the interview that “In 12 years of touring with As I Lay Dying, I would say maybe 1 in 10 Christian bands that we toured with were actually Christian bands.” And I’ve contested to this also, for years. Bands like Norma Jean, Dead Poetic, Cea Serin, Emery, Extol, Figure Four, Haste the Day, He Is Legend, Immortal Souls, Underoath, even Zao, all run under the Christian banner, but as I continue to look through their lyrics, I see nothing that glorifies or even talks about God in a good light (please inform me if I’m wrong about any of these, for I would love to be wrong about this). Basically, if they have nothing to do with Jesus or Biblical truths, then how are they any different than a secular band? What makes them considered a Christian band? Is it because some of the band members are Christians? Is it because they’re signed under a Christian label? Because Lambesis even said that during his tenure with As I Lay Dying, he realized that a number of bands that professed to be Christians were actually faking their faith, just as he was.
One band in particular that comes to mind is P.O.D. At the release of their Satellite CD, I was working at Rebel Radio, a (secular) heavy metal radio station in Chicago. While searching for updates on bands and stuff to mention about their new CD’s, I came across an article about P.O.D., where they announced that they were no longer going to sing about Jesus, but would now instead use their Christian faith to witness to the secular bands they tour with (of course, I can’t find the source at the moment). I thought that was crap though because all their old stuff was bold ministry. You could speak their lyrics from the pulpit! So now that they’ve boomed in the secular market, they’re not going to sing about Jesus anymore? What’s that about? Jesus gave you this success so that you could share your message with the world, because they’re the ones who need to hear it most. But now that you’re here, you’re going to stop your message?
The thing is, when you’re close with Jesus Christ, and you’re reading His Word daily, you have no choice but to share His word with others, because you have this fire burning inside you that you have to get out – you can’t hold it in. So if you’re a musician, this same fire will come out in your song writing, too – you can’t help it. Plus, aren’t these the kinds of songs you want stuck in your head anyway, the kinds that glorify Christ in your preferred genre? And isn’t that what Christian music should be?
The Apostle John tells us in his first letter (1 John 4) “(not to) believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit, but to test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God, for there are many false prophets in the world…such a person has the spirit of the Anti-Christ, which you heard is coming into the world, and is indeed already here.”
When I visit a church, even if somebody told me their preaching is right on, my whole time there is not so much worshiping as it is observing and testing the Spirit. I keep my guard up the whole time, take notes, and just observe like a skeptic, for if they’re preaching something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, I don’t want that spirit entering my mind or trying to confuse me. Understand, just because somebody has a degree in Theology, is ordained, is revered by other Christians, is preaching in a church, or claims to be a Christian, does not mean that they really know Jesus Christ personally, or that they’re preaching (or even believe in) the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, I’ve come across a LOT of such preachers in a lot of different types of churches. If I had not been skeptical, then I might have fallen into the same trap as all those around whom already had.
Am I wrong to do this? In his interview, Lambesis said that “A lot of Christian parents said, ‘Yes, you can buy this As I Lay Dying CD, because they’re a Christian band.’ They don’t even think to actually check the lyrics.” Don’t you realize that you may be welcoming the enemy (Satan and/or his demons) into your mind and soul, willingly, and have no idea? It’s like eating something that says “organic”, but is really full of insecticides and hormones. Do you really want that stuff in your soul? Do you really want it stuck on your mind? Do you really want anything that mocks Christ on your lips?
Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to non-Christian music. But as Christians, when we’re listening to a song that we know is not about Christ, we don’t allow its message to take up room in our souls, right? You already know what to expect, so your spiritual defenses are already up. But if we listen to it, thinking it’s a Christian band, we let our guard down and their message in, then we risk being infected by their anti-Christian beliefs, because we think they’re singing about Truth. It’s like being betrayed by your friend. And if you don’t know better, you could become confused in your own spiritual walk with Jesus.
If you want to hear some great Christ-promoting metal, even just for an example of what I would consider true “Christian Metal”, then check out some of these: 38th Parallel, Ascension Theory, Barren Cross, Beloved, Betrayal, Bloodgood, The Crucified, Deliverance, Demon Hunter, Die Happy, Disciple, Eso Charis, Eternal Decision, Guardian, Jacob’s Dream, Justifide, Kutless, Living Sacrifice, Mortal, Mortal Treason, Mortification, Narnia, P.O.D. (check out their “Brown” CD), Pillar, Precious Death, Seventh Day Slumber, Skillet, Staple, Stryper, Tourniquet, Whitecross, Vengeance Rising, and X-Sinner, and you’ll see what I mean by what I believe Christian music should really be (basically, evangelism, praise, and encouraging Christians in a metal genre…some even give their testimonies and/or an altar call at their shows). But hey, don’t take my word for it…read their lyrics and bio’s, and judge for yourself. Then, if it’s in tune with the Spirit of God, share it with others. But always check it out before you give in.
If anything, I think Tim Lambesis’ confession may be an eye-opener to others who blindly trust the labels, as well as the promoters and bands who just want to play and make money off their music: research it for yourself so you can be sure it’s in tune with God’s Spirit. Also, research the band members. Jesus says that we can know the type of person by the fruit that they bear. Are they bearing spiritual fruit? If not, then you may be onto something.